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Yaz contains two female hormones, a synthetic estrogen called ethinyl estradiol and a progestin called drospirenone. 1 Combinations of estrogen and progestin work by preventing ovulation. They also change the lining of the uterus to prevent pregnancy from developing and change the mucus at the cervix to prevent sperm from entering. In addition to preventing pregnancy, some birth control pills containing drospirenone (such as Yaz) are approved to treat other symptoms.
Yaz and Birth Control Pills
Yaz is a combined oral contraceptive, a type of drug that helps lower the risk of becoming pregnant primarily by suppressing ovulation. 2 Other possible mechanisms include cervical mucus changes that inhibit sperm penetration and the endometrial changes that may reduce the likelihood of implantation.
Drospirenone is one of several progestins used in birth control pills. Most birth control pills combine a synthetic version of the female hormone progesterone (referred to as a progestin) with synthetic estrogen. Some birth control pills containing drospirenone, such as Yaz, are also approved to treat symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), help reduce moderate acne, and raise folate levels in women who choose to use a pill for birth control. 3
Combined Oral Contraceptives
Brand names of similar drugs containing drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol include:
- Yaz – generics Gianvi and Loryna
- Yasmin – generics Ocella, Syeda, and Zarah
- Beyaz – includes supplemental folate
All of these medications (excluding generic versions) are produced by Bayer and contain similar doses of drospirenone. Yasmin, Beyaz and their generic versions contain a slightly higher dose of ethinyl estradiol. Be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist to verify that you are receiving the proper medication.
Yaz Label Indications
Yaz is indicated for use by women to prevent pregnancy.
Women who use an oral contraceptive may also talk to their healthcare provide about using Yaz to treat symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Note that Yaz has not been evaluated or approved to treat premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Yaz is indicated for the treatment of moderate acne vulgaris in women at least 14 years of age. Only women who have no known contraindications to oral contraceptive therapy (see below) and who have achieved menarche (the first menstrual cycle) should use Yaz for this purpose. 4
Woman should not take Yaz if they currently exhibit or have exhibited any of the following conditions:
- Blood clots in the legs (deep vein thrombosis), lungs (pulmonary embolism), or eyes (retinal thrombosis)
- Cardiac arrest (heart attack)
- Heart valve problems or rhythmic abnormalities that produce blood clots
- Genetic blood clotting disorders
- High blood pressure that cannot be managed with pharmaceuticals
- Diabetes with damage to kidneys, eyes, nerves, or blood vessels
- Intense migraines with aura, numbness, weakness or vision changes
- Cancers sensitive to female hormones, including breast cancer
- Liver disease, including tumors
- Kidney disease
- Adrenal disease
Women who meet the following criteria also should not take combined oral contraceptives (birth control pills):
- Smoke and are over 35 years old
- Are or suspect you are pregnant
Taking Yaz with Other Drugs
Women who take Yaz in combination with other drugs may experience an increase in serum potassium concentration.
Before going on the pill, consult your doctor if you are taking medications such as:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, naproxen, and others
- Potassium-sparing diuretics like spironolactone
- Potassium supplements
- ACE inhibitors like captopril, enalapril, or lisinopril
- Angiotensin-II receptor antagonists like Cozaar, Diovan, or Avapro
- Aldosterone antagonists
The following drugs and supplements also may interact with Yaz and related combined oral contraceptives:
- Bosentan (Tracleer)
- Carbamazepine (Tegretol)
- Felbamate (Felbatol)
- Griseofulvin (Grifulvin V, Fulvicin P/G)
- Oxcarbazepine (Trileptal)
- Phenytoin (Dilantin)
- Rifampin (Rimactane, Rifadin)
- St. John’s wort
- Topiramate (Topamax)
- Lamotrigine (Lamictil)
- Levothyroxine (Synthroid)
Significant changes (increase or decrease) in the plasma concentrations of estrogen and progestin have been noted in some cases of co-administration with HIV/HCV protease inhibitors or with non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors.
Take Yaz as directed by your doctor. Typically, the pill will be administered by taking one tablet daily, by mouth, at the same time each day. Tablets must be taken in the order directed on the blister pack.
Yaz consists of 28 film-coated tablets in the following order:
- 24 light pink tablets, each containing drospirenone (progestin) and ethinyl estradiol (estrogen)
- 4 white tablets that are inert (containing no active drug ingredients)
Follow all packaging instructions for maximum efficacy.
Side Effects of Yaz
Women who take combined oral contraceptives (like Yaz) may experience some of the side effects listed below, as indicated on the label.
Common Side Effects
- Irregular uterine bleeding
- Breast tenderness
Serious Side Effects
- Cardiovascular events
- Liver disease
- Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc. “Yaz: Full Prescribing Information.” (April 2012) Accessed Aug. 19, 2013.
- Shriver, Eunice Kennedy. “What are the different types of contraception?” (Nov. 30, 2012) National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Accessed Aug. 18, 2013
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration. “Information about Drospirenone.” (April 19, 2012) Accessed Oct. 22, 2014. https://www.fda.gov/
- Bayer. “Indications & Usage.” (2013). Accessed Oct. 22, 2014. http://labeling.bayerhealthcare.com/html/products/pi/fhc/YAZ_PI.pdf